Finance minister Arun Jaitley has raised the issue of tightening of the H-1B visa regime with his US counterpart treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin during their first meeting and highlighted the contribution of Indian firms and professionals to the US economy.
This was the second time Jaitley raised the H-1B visa issue with the American side during his visit here to attend the annual Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. He had also raised the issue with US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross earlier.
During their meeting on Saturday, Jaitley and Mnuchin discussed a wide range of bilateral issues, in addition to the international cooperation against terror financing.
Jaitley highlighted the notable progress made in the Indo-US relations over the last few years and India’s ambitious reform agenda which was creating new opportunities towards a deeper economic engagement between the two countries, a finance ministry statement said.
“Critical economic issues like Indo-US investment initiative, infrastructure collaboration and NIIF (National Investment and Infrastructure Fund), collaboration with the US for Smart Cities Development were deliberated upon during the meeting,” it said.
Jaitley raised the issue of H-1B visas for skilled professionals from India and highlighted the contribution which Indian companies and professionals are making to the US economy, the statement said. President Donald Trump last week signed an executive order for tightening the rules of the H-1B visa programme to stop its “abuse” and ensure that the visas are given to the “most-skilled or highest paid” petitioners, a decision that would impact India’s $150 billion IT industry.
The Indian IT industry expressed serious concerns over this as these visas were mainly used by domestic IT professionals for short-term work in America. The US market accounts for about 60% of the revenue of the Indian IT industry.